Afghanistan: Turkey and Qatar negotiate with the Taliban to manage Kabul airport | International

With the departure of the last American soldiers and the takeover of Kabul airport by the Taliban, the question is who will now manage the infrastructure? El personal militar extranjero ha sido evacuado y parte de los local civil experts han huido por miedo a las represalias del movimiento extremista ―que a su vez carece de personal cualificado― por lo que la gestión de la seguridad y la logística del aerodromo han quedado en the air. Thus, the Taliban have been negotiating for days who will take over Kabul International Airport, key for the arrival of aid and supplies given the precarious situation in this Central Asian country.

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“There are ongoing discussions with the Qataris and the Turks on the management of the airport,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian explained on Tuesday on France 2 television. -he says, is a reopening in accordance with the resolution. of the Security Council of the United Nations approved on the night of Monday to Tuesday with 13 votes in favor and the abstention of Russia and China. The UN body has called for the “rapid and safe” opening of the airport to allow those who wish to leave the country.

Over the weekend, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan admitted that negotiations were underway: “The Taliban offered us to operate Kabul airport. We haven’t made a decision on that yet. The main reason for doubt, Erdogan acknowledged, is the possibility of attacks like the one committed last Thursday by the ISIS-K group, which claimed the lives of at least 183 people.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu explained that various options are being evaluated and what the “personnel and equipment needs” are. He said this on Sunday during a press conference with his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, with whom he spoke to discuss, among other things, the situation in Afghanistan. In recent days, the head of Turkish diplomacy and the Minister of Defense have met electronically with their Qatari counterparts to advance the file of Kabul airport.

One of the issues of friction in the negotiation is who will be responsible for the security of this infrastructure. Even before the fall of Kabul, the Turkish government had agreed with the United States that its troops would take over security at the airport, but rapidly changing events changed plans. Since the fundamentalists entered Kabul, Turkish diplomats – who are still in the country – have met them on several occasions and have tried to guarantee the continuity of the detachment of some 600 Turkish armed forces soldiers deployed at the airfield. But Taliban leaders have insisted that all foreign troops leave the country by August 31, so the Turkish army was evacuated last Friday.

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“The Turkish people and their state are our friends. We have many reasons to continue this friendship,” one of the Taliban spokesmen, Zabihullah Mujahid, told Turkish news agency Anadolu on Sunday: “We have had talks with Turkey. We assured them that there would be no security issues, that we will take care of those needs once we have taken control of the airport. “Our fighters and special forces are able to control the airport and we don’t need anyone’s help to ensure the security and administrative control of Kabul airport,” another spokesperson reiterated on Monday. of the armed group, Bilal Karimi, in statements to the French press agency

Instead, Erdogan questioned the capacity of Afghan extremists: “Almost 200 people died when no one expected it, there are even Taliban among the dead. We will see what the Taliban’s position is regarding being a state and how to run a state. […] How are we going to explain it to the world if there’s bloodshed when you take security [del aeropuerto]?”.

Two government sources confirmed to Reuters that Turkey will not take over the airport unless it is allowed to have a large security team. One proposed solution is the deployment of a private security company staffed by retired Turkish military and police. This formula has also been confirmed by two sources in the media Middle Eastern Eye, which also guarantees that the Turkish proposal includes the deployment of members of the Turkish special forces, although without uniform and as long as they never leave the perimeter of the airport. This publication argues that in exchange for a Turkish-Qatari consortium operating the airport, Ankara should officially recognize the new Taliban regime as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

Although the Taliban have said they want commercial flights from Kabul to resume, their recovery will be difficult. Various sources consulted by France Presse They claim that after the evacuation operations of recent weeks, the terminal is destroyed and that several key infrastructures, including the control tower and its devices, have been damaged and will have to be repaired before the resumption of flights.

In fact, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Monday issued regulations prohibiting U.S.-registered aircraft, pilots, and operators from flying “at any altitude over most of Afghanistan.” The eastern end of the country is excluded from the ban, as long as it is flown over at “high altitude”.

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